This week I thought we could think about ways to encourage families to support early math concepts at home with some simple ideas that anyone can do.
Everyday chores may be horribly boring to the adults who do them (ME!) but children can find joy in the same tasks if they are approached as fun, participatory games. Take laundry. For me, this is the worst of the worst. The never-ending piles of dirty clothes, followed by the never-ending piles of clean clothes that need to be put away followed by the never-ending pile of dirty clothes. It is a cycle that never ends. Even when all of the baskets are empty and everything is put away, it only lasts a moment – not even long enough to appreciate it.
The following ideas can be incorporated into a parent newsletter. Be sure to let them know that encouraging early math skills at home is easier than they think.
There is so much math in laundry, you just have to find it.
From the dirty clothes pile, have your children find all of the white clothes and pile them together. Then ask them to find all of the jeans, and make another pile. This act of sorting can be made more fun if you hide three baskets around the room, with one example of each kind of clothing at the bottom (jeans, whites, and everything else) so they have to find the place each kind of clothing belongs. This might be very hard, since you are asking them to think of more than one attribute at a time. For younger children, just divide the clothes into two categories.
Once the clothes are clean, have the children find the matching socks and show them how to roll them together. Then have them practice their aim, by tossing them back into the basket. This simple activity encourages matching skills, aiming skills, spatial knowledge, attribute definition, and sorting. This also means that you don’t have to find the matching socks. See, it makes your life easier.
Putting away laundry can also be fun. Set the basket with all of the clean clothes near the bedrooms. Make sure that the children know and can identify everyone’s beds. Then, give each child an item of clothing and have them determine who it belongs to. Once they have it figured out, time them as they run to the owner’s bed to deposit the item of clothing there. Do this activity before you fold anything, since everything will come unfolded during the game. Once the clothes are distributed on each bed, have the children determine who has the most clothes, who has the least, who has the biggest, and who has the smallest. If they aren’t sure about sizes, have them bring items from two beds back and compare them so they can see definitively which items are bigger or smaller.
Over the next few weeks, I am going to describe other simple daily tasks that can encourage early math skills. What I like about many of these is that the home provider can also try many of these ideas out. Let us know if you do.